Yemen’s perfect solution
So many scenarios have been recommended for a federal system. One that says the country should have five states; the other says six, and so on.
Realistically speaking, it turns out Yemen is not ready for such federations because the 21 current governorates will never agree to be merged into larger ones. And, the lines between provinces—drawn in terms of affiliation, local history and even culture—are not black and white.
Here is one perfect solution that could solve the problem while keeping in mind the complexity of the country: Yemen becomes a federation of 23 states!
We know a federation system of local governance is what all the states want. So, in order to save time, let each state be its own federal province. In fact, we should also allow Yafe, an area divided between Dhale and Abyan in the south, become its own state because of the complexities there. People in Yafe feel marginalized within their own states, so giving them their own state would definitely end a lot of the tension.
Moreover, the huge state of Hadramaut, which includes the coast and the valley, should be divided into two states. The name would only be officially recognized as Hadramout Valley and Hadramout Coast, which are the names locals already use.
By having 23 federal states, we solve the merging problems while simultaneously achieving the decentralization every Yemeni seeks. Each federal province would keep say 20 or 30 percent of its resources, and the rest would go back to the central budget to be divided back into the states based on need.
Since they are ports, states such as Aden, Mukalla, Hodeida and Taiz should have a different agreement. Also, the capital Sana’a should be treated differently—maybe like Washington, D.C., where the locals have non-voting representation in Congress.
The 23 provinces will have their own regulations regarding local matters. Issues such as education and health care should be the responsibility of the local governorate, though a unified education syllabus should be applied up to secondary school.
Regarding the presidential and parliamentary system, Yemen is already enjoying a mix of the two, but the president in the current system enjoys too much power, which allows for dictatorship. The new system should be the same as the current one but with less control in president’s hands regarding military and political decisions such as appointing ambassadors and so on. Military decisions should be left to the Ministry of Defense, and the Parliament should have decision-making power over who Yemen’s political representation should be.
Yemen’s stability needs a new formula, and that formula needs to be seriously considered.